The idea of Nations uniting for peace and tranquility has been around for more than 400 years as near as I can tell – the first outrageous proposal may have been the one proposed by the French duc de Sully in 1601. He wanted to call it “the very Christian Council of Europe” ; it would be composed of 15 roughly equal European states with a common army – imagine that. It was also called “The Grand Design, a Utopian plan for a Christian Republic.” Nice try, duc.
In 1859, another Frenchman, Jean Henri Dunant, while visiting in Italy, happened upon the village of Solferino, where a battle in the Austro-Sardinian war had produced more than 40,000 dead and wounded. The experience inspired Dunant to publish “A Memory of Solferino” in 1863, a book that led Gustave Moynier, a Geneva, Switzerland lawyer to help organize an “International Committee for Relief of the Wounded” that became the ICRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1876. The World War One role of the ICRC in saving lives, exchanging prisoners, enabling communication between combatants and families, maintaining troop morale, and more, can not be minimized. It was part of the late 19th Century movement toward global Internationalism led by men like the South African Jan Christian Smuts.
Smuts must have been a role model for Woodrow Wilson; it was Smuts who wrote the covenant of the League of Nations that Wilson insisted be included in the Treaty of Versailles, and that was seen by many as the first great flaw in the Treaty .
The War Guilt Clause wrestles with these issues, then moves on to the question of how did the civilian war survivors on both sides view the Treaty of Versailles?